Six Things that I Have Learned In Six Years of Marriage
1. Debt is the Enemy of Your Marriage
My father says that debt is, “like an albatross around your neck.” Whether it’s skipping the big wedding, holding off on your honeymoon, buying the cheaper less Pinterest-worthy, house or just making small sacrifices every day, you’ve got to avoid bad debt and/or pay it off ASAP. Sometimes debt is unavoidable (like your out-of-pocket co-insurance for a c-section). But many times we choose to have something now by financing it or accumulating some debt so we can have that thing now. Trust me, having all the things now at the expense of debt is not worth it.
I the beginning of your marriage, you should live lean. Keep your overhead low and just build your wealth. The good news is that there are some many resources to help you avoid debt through budgeting and financial planning and get rid of debt. You don’t have to make six-figures for someone to be willing to help steer you in the right direction financially.
Marriage is really hard. Avoid stress wherever you can. Good money habits means way less stress in the future and keep your marriage strong.
2. You Are Going to Change
A newlywed recently said to me that they are considering a post-nuptial agreement because, “what if we change.” I hate to break it to you, but you’re going to change. Your life is going to change. Your financial situation will change. You will lose things or gain things that will change your life.
For better or worse, change is inevitable. The goal is to change together, and not grow apart. And honestly you may grow apart slowly but you have to be cognizant of where you and your spouse stand as individuals and together so that when you start to drift apart to can take action to stick together.
The key a strong marriage is having it was and resources to change together and not separately.
There’s so many ways to hold that bond together. The first and easiest way is healthy, and consistent communication. It’s crazy how easy it is not to talk candidly with your spouse when you’ve got work and family obligations that keep you from being able to consistently talking check-in. But there’s also professional help available to not only help you communicate, but talk through the issues and learn healthy tools for the next time that you will change.
When you get married, you can’t be afraid of change. The resistance is what will break you, but the acceptance of the inevitable and preparing for it is the way that you stay together.
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3. YOU HAVE TO DATE YOUR SPOUSE
4. YOU HAVE TO CHECK-IN WITH YOUR SPOUSE
There are days when I literally don’t have a meaningful conversation with my husband. We’re going in opposite directions and we’re trying to meet all of our obligations out of the house. We really have to make a concerted effort to check-in with each other.
For us it looks like family dinner, and we try to eat dinner together every night. And then on top of that I sometimes just call him at the office to just have a meaningful conversation without distraction because it’s the easiest way to guarantee that we can really talk about something.
I’m also a big fan of monthly family meetings. To just ask how your spouse is doing, What big things do they have coming up, what goals or plans they have for themselves and for the family, and how your kids are doing because they may observe and see things that you don’t always see.
And of course it’s always important to just say, “how are you doing?” Even though you’re together the majority of the day and you sleep in the same bed, you don’t always really know it’s going on with your spouse unless you ask. Asking is the difference between a healthy marriage and a marriage that needs work.
5. Kids Change Everything
I always wanted kids, but I’m always been really scared of the logistics of kids. How to give your children your time and money and whether the you can do a good job. I am very kind is it the fact that I can be a very selfish person, and I was concerned that I would not be very selfless when it came to my child since I was giving so much already to my spouse.
Luckily, it has all worked out. I’m a big believer that God provides. Something about having a child really gives your marriage new meaning and purpose, and gives you and your spouse a new focus that is so joyous.
It makes it even more important to have quality time with your spouse. But by raising a child (or many), your marriage has literally produced something that you and your spouse can together take so much pride in.
6. You’ve Got to Share Priorities
Every year I set my goals, list my priorities and chose the direction for my life for that year. Since I’ve been married, I have factored in my husband’s priorities and goals. Together talk openly about our hopes and dreams for the future, and identified our priorities for our marriage.
We don’t always do the best job of articulating what our priorities are, but really asking the questions and trying to dig deep with your spouse keep your marriage strong.
Like anything else with marriage, you may have to compromise on what is and what is not important. Honoring your spouse’s most important priorities, and actively trying to put their priorities at the forefront, is probably the single most important thing you can do in a marriage.